An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

June 1, 2023

Dear Arvind, I want my money back

[This article has been submitted by Manjunath P from Bangalore. He was active in organising meetings in Freedom Park during Anna movement. An early member of AAP and part of AAP’s social media campaign during Delhi elections.]


Frankly, I had never heard of Arvind Kejriwal till Anna’s Janlokpal movement. The movement had touched the simmering anger against corruption and the dishonest politicians. I still remember how we had switched off the lights in our building for an hour to support Anna. Most of the buildings in our locality had done the same. Round the clock media coverage on people’s participation acted as a booster dose to the already prevalent buoyant mood.

Ignorant politicians were acting immature, sometimes even insulting Anna
and it all just added to the anger. Arvind Kejriwal came on the scene with
reports of his hard line stance in meetings between government and civil
society members. We all supported Arvind Kejriwal. We’ve all seen what happened to the billion dollar scams and their investigation. We had seen the arrogance of UPA government and the treatment meted out to Baba Ramdev. There was no trust left on the government. There was a realization that we cannot get rid of corruption by working with the government.

I supported Kejriwal when he announced his party. I was among the first few
who applied for party’s membership and rejoiced when Arvind came up with a string of exposes. He was taking on the high and mighty like, Salman
Khurshid, Nitin Gadkari, Robert Vadra and Mukesh Ambani. Here was an honest leader of impeccable credentials fighting an unrelenting battle against corruption. Every time he was attacked in media, my support grew stronger. I’ve donated to AAP and even participated in online campaigns during Delhi elections. I wanted to see him win and set examples in fight against corruption. I was overjoyed to see AAP coming to power in Delhi.

Arvind indulged in populist schemes, free water and cheap electricity. This
wasn’t different from any other politician but had to be done since it was
part of election promise. Round the clock media coverage showed AAP
ministers travelling by metro and auto, rejecting government perks. I was
happy but i waited for the revolution to begin. Media, all around was going
gaga over Kejriwal. It was a sweet sight to see same media going crazy over
AAP which was writing us off till some months back.

I was disappointed to see the entire discourse for AAP change from
rejecting VIP culture to preparations for Parliamentary elections. What
happened to the promise of immediately acting on corruption? What happened to all those proofs against corrupt politicians and high officials. The very genesis of AAP lies in its promised fight against corruption but till date Arvind’s government has not even shown inclination to go after the corrupt. We were led to believe AAP leadership has sufficient proof against corrupt politicians in Delhi and still didn’t see any action. Helpline number looks more like an excuse to transfer the onus of fighting corruption on people.

Not everyone in AAP carries as impeccable a character as Arvind’s. A lot of
AAP candidates have either been part of conventional parties or are
rejects. The sting done by Media-Sarkar may have been rejected by the party but the facts remains that they agreed to indulge in illegal acts for money and votes. Despite the claims of transparent money collections, most of us knew that cash was regularly accepted during elections. As if the antics of Binny and Rakhi were not enough, Prashant Bhushan keeps embarrassing with statements that most AAP supporters dislike. Yogendra Yadav has proposed a new reservation quota. The party is behaving as just any other party Arvind used to abuse from Anna’s podium in Ramlila Maidan.

Media is covering AAP just as extensively as it was covering Anna movement. AAP now has everything that it asked for from people and the system but it seems our priorities have changed. We were told AAP government wouldn’t last more than a week and we had to fulfill our promises soon. Weeks have gone by, the government is stable and the principal promise of acting against corrupt remains untouched. I’m told famous people are joining AAP and it will strengthen the party. I wonder how much more strength do we need to act against corruption when we can’t do it being in government. I’m told i need to give Arvind more time and i wonder why did he not set our expectations accordingly. He was the one giving us dates for things he planned to do. His statements on Sheila Dixit, Janlokpal are exactly opposite of his stands just before election.

Frankly i don’t see anything different that has been done by Arvind. No to
VIP culture, transferring officials to distributing freebies, its been done before. I’d sum up my AAP experience as a promise that disappointed. I just couldn’t understand this craze for fighting national elections when so many promises remain unfulfilled. If i could, i would want back the money i donated. This constant media praise of AAP is bewildering when we haven’t even delivered on the promises. With the benefit of hindsight, i can now say, even Anna movement wouldn’t have captured the imagination of people the way it did had it not been for media. I’m afraid AAP will end up as a brief spark in Indian political history once media coverage fades unless they deliver on the fundamental promise of fighting corruption.